Golden Oldies (Stuff to Watch this Christmas)

This being the 21st century, you are very likely going to find yourself watching a movie with the family this Christmas season. So here are my suggestions for some shamelessly conversation-provoking picks. Have fun, and merry Christmas!

1.) A Man For All Seasons

Conservatives pride themselves on devotion to justice and the rule of law. Procedural laws and civil liberties, which protect the rights of all parties to a legal proceeding, are necessarily included in the rule of law. I have not found a better movie for illustrating these principles. The premise of the film is that Sir Thomas More is defending his conscientious objection to approving of Henry VIII’s divorce. The movie deals with themes of the right against self-incrimination, the rights of the accused, and wisely dealing with the authorities. Plus it’s just an excellent movie.

2.) Fantastic Beasts, and Where to Find Them

The only recent movie on the list, this earns a spot for making some fun of occupational licensing, gun licensing, and other forms of regulation. It also demonstrates the danger in investing a one-man tribunal with judiciary powers, and tells a story of a time when money was wealth, because money was gold. I admit that it was a little “nerdy” (if I can use such a word on a serious political forum) to go to a Harry Potter film and think about the system of government the entire time…but perhaps the fun of the film is that it introduces these themes without losing the main plot.

3.) Yes, Prime Minister

Reportedly Margaret Thatcher immensely enjoyed watching this British show because it was so accurate. It lambasts bureaucratic ineptitude like no series before or after it. You will follow the career of a politician whose unhappy duty it is to deal with obtuse civil servants that firmly believe that “government policy is almost always wrong…but frightfully well carried out.” It demonstrates exactly how administrative decisions are made; that is to say, it demonstrates exactly how we got into the mess we are in. But its greatest recommendation is that it is a barrel full of laughs.

4.) Rumpole of the Bailey

This show is in the spirit of H.L. Mencken. It is a great show, if you can put up with the quiet mocking of religion. The basic premise is that defending liberty sometimes requires defending scoundrels. Accordingly, it follows the rascally Mencken-like character of Horace Rumpole, a defending barrister that never takes a prosecution brief on principle. He might get a few scoundrels off, but all for preserving the rights of good men.

5.) Yes, Minister

Ok, I admit that including this one was cheap…read description of Yes, Prime Minister above. These are the prequels.

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